Years from now, I’ll think back about the 2018 college football season and remember a few moments, players, teams and games will stick out. One of those defining factors of the 2018 college football season was Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray winning the heisman trophy in his lone season as the starter. In front of Murray was, in my opinion, the best offensive line in the country.
That statement was reflected by the results of the NFL Draft, as right tackle Cody Ford, left tackle Bobby Evans, right guard Dru Samia and left guard Ben Powers were all taken in-between picks 38 and 123. The crazy part about Oklahoma sending four offensive line to the NFL in one draft class? That the best one of them all remains in Norman.
Starting center Creed Humphrey, a redshirt freshman last season, had the best tape out of all five offensive lineman. Humphrey’s background and experience is a glimpse into what has made him a successful college player to this point in time.
At 6’4 and 315 pounds, Humphrey has an ideal build for an interior offensive lineman. Along with playing football in high school, Humphrey was a renowned wrestler. Over the past few years, he’s worked with a trainer who specializes in centers, suggesting that he knew exactly where he could thrive with his mobility, understanding of leverage and size.
In high school, Humphrey was a U.S. Army All-American and one of the best players in the state of Oklahoma. Despite being redshirted in 2017, the coaches described him as “Country-fed,” speaking to his power and mauler style of play. In 2018, Humphrey played in all 14 games at center and was named Freshman All-American.
On film last season, Humphrey would overpower opposing defensive lineman with striking regularity. With his wrestling background, you can see how he is able to adjust his hands in position to regain and improve his leverage. While he showed positive traits all season long, the true test for him came against Alabama, whose defensive line was highlighted by #2 overall pick defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
There were naturally some plays against Alabama that their vaunted defensive line got the best of Oklahoma’s front, but to Humphrey’s credit, he held up better than anybody when facing the Crimson Tide. In fact, Humphrey was one of the few who had positive showings against Alabama, up there with Erik McCoy and Andrew Thomas.
On Oklahoma’s first drive of the game, Alabama attempted a stunt that put Isaiah Buggs into the “A” gap. Humphrey not only anchored, but he recoiled his drive and knocked Buggs past the line of scrimmage:
That same ability to drop his hips and stop a defender’s charge showed up with Oklahoma in the redzone, as he overpowered linebacker Dylan Moses who was coming on a blitz. Humphrey’s anchor is outstanding:
On top of his pass protection, Humphrey’s mobility and explosiveness for his size allows him to be a mailer in the run game. With a great understanding of body positioning, hat placement and hand fighting, he forces defensive lineman to constantly be working through his frame towards the football. This rep against Isaiah Buggs being a good example, notice how Humphrey is able to swing his body towards the hole without losing balance:
Finally, working against Quinnen Williams, take notice of how Humphrey adjusts his body weight to maintain proper leverage and keep his hands inside of Williams’ pads on this rep:
Humphrey seemingly had pro-ready tape as a redshirt freshman, which means this season will be about consistency and health. As the only returning starter on the offensive line for Oklahoma, he’ll be looked at to lead the unit. If it all goes according to plan, Humphrey will be the next top 100 offensive lineman from Oklahoma.